Early Oscar Nomination Predictions 2008

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  • I'm going to put up a more complete list in about a month or so, but here are my earliest of early predictions.

  • Best Picture: For a while I was convinced The Reader was going to totally shake up everyone's preconceived notions of this category. However, since it can't even become a Fresh Tomato, I will have to re-evaluate. Some people may think Doubt, Gran Torino, The Wrestler, or Rachel Getting Married are solid contenders, but I'm convinced that those films will mainly get nominated for their performances. Which leaves us with the big six:
  • Slumdog
  • Ben Button
  • Milk
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Dark Knight
  • Revolutionary Road

  • One of these must be bumped off, and my guess is that it will be one of the bottom three. Something tells me it will be Revolutionary Road. AMPAS is afraid they'll seem too boring or out-of-touch if they fail to nominate the uber-popular top-grosser Dark Knight, and Frost/Nixon similarly fulfills a niche in this category (a more seasoned director with more conventional Academy love, as well as being based on an acclaimed play and having acclaimed performances). What's so special about Revolutionary Road? Not a whole lot. You've got a film without much story, plus Leo and Kate (who were certainly not the reasons why the Academy loved Titanic) and Sam Mendes (who did win for American Beauty, but the Academy hasn't really given a crap about him since). At this point, I say it's doomed to fall off, but I could be entirely wrong.

  • As for the win, right now it looks like Slumdog's... but Ben Button will win the Best Drama Golden Globe, along with some other top prizes.

  • Best Actor - Pretty much everyone thinks that Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke are locks. As do I. Clint missed out on a Globes nom, but the Academy can't stop kissing his ass and he will almost certainly get nominated. That basically leaves you with three actors for two spots:
  • Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
  • Brad Pitt, Ben Button
  • Leo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road

  • I say Frank is in and one of the two hunks are out. Once again, I think the star of Revolutionary Road is gonna go, partially because the Academy will think Ben Button is a better film.

  • Who knows, though? Maybe Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) will sneak in and surprise me.

  • As for the win, again, it seems like Penn vs. Rourke. Penn won five years ago, and unless a performance is head-and-shoulders above the rest, the Academy usually likes to spread the love, so I'm tempted to say Rourke.

  • Best Actress - At this point Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway seem very solid. I'm convinced despite the Globes snub, Melissa Leo will make it in. Kristin Scott Thomas is likely; the Academy usually likes to have their token foreign film performance among the other 19 nominated performances. As for the last spot, you once again have a battle between the Ben Button lead (Cate Blanchett) and the Revolutionary Road lead (Kate Winslet). This time, I'll give the edge to Winslet. It seems foolish to predict a snub for either Kate or Cate given how they seem to have clauses in their contract in which the Academy must nominate them every year. Who would you kick out of the first four, though? Probably KST.

  • Sally Hawkins and Angelina Jolie are also possibilities, but I personally doubt either one is going to happen.

  • I really have no idea who's going to win this one. Sadly, you can get rich betting against Meryl by now, seeing as she's been nominated 10 times and won 0 times in the past 25 years. What the hell, no guts, no glory, right? I'll pick Melissa Leo.

  • Best Supporting Actor - Heath Ledger and Philip Seymour Hoffman are locks. Josh Brolin for Milk is very likely. I have no idea who Michael Shannon is or what role he's playing in Revolutionary Road, but the buzz tells me I should predict him too. Maybe I should look that guy up.

  • For the fifth slot, much as it pains me, I'm going to have to predict Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder. I love Downey, but I'll be damned if he deserves an Oscar nomination for that role, especially over such underrated actors as Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon), Dev Patel (Slumdog), and James Franco (Milk). I'd even prefer Brad Pitt or John Malkovich in Burn After Reading. Unfortunately, Downey's role is generating too much buzz to ignore.

  • As for the win, this is Ledger's to lose.

  • Best Supporting Actress - I know you can't wait for me to start naming people in Doubt and Rachel Getting Married, but let's start with the locks: Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler. Taraji P. Henson also seems extremely likely.

  • That leaves two spots, two Doubt actresses, and two Rachel actresses. Much as I love Amy Adams, I think she's out; her performance in Doubt is great, but it's not as overtly powerful as Viola Davis's, so I say Davis is in. I feel like more people are calling Rosemarie DeWitt than Debra Winger in Rachel Getting Married, so I'll go with popular opinion and say it's DeWitt and Davis. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if the Academy fails to enjoy either film as much as I predict, and decides to nominate two actresses from the same film.

  • The only person who could shake this up is Kate Winslet in The Reader. Her performance has won accolades, but I still feel like the movie won't be well-received enough to nominate Kate. I could be wrong, though, and she could knock off Henson, DeWitt, or Davis.

  • As for the win, Cruz seems like the favorite, and who am I to argue?

  • Best Director - Take the six films I mentioned in Best Picture, look up their directors, and you've got your top six. The six directors rarely match the six films perfectly, though. Will Sam Mendes have a chance? Maybe, but the wildcard director usually tends to be a bold indie director who's made a non-American film that is very acclaimed but too challenging for Best Picture - e.g., Julian Schnabel, Paul Greengrass, Mike Leigh, Fernando Meirelles, etc. Where are the foreigners this year? Why didn't they step it up, especially in this year of the writer's strike? Could it be Mike Leigh again, or will the Academy dismiss Happy Go Lucky as too fluffy? Could Charlie Kaufman be the wildcard? Jonathan Demme? Darren Aronofsky?

  • Or maybe the Academy will have had its fill with indie directors after they finish nominating David Fincher, and Danny Boyle, and probably Christopher Nolan and Gus van Sant, and Mendes will sneak in after all. Over Ron Howard though? Probably not, which may mean Mendes steals either Nolan's or van Sant's spot (more likely the latter, I think). Or maybe this will be one of those years where the directors match the pictures and I'm just yammering on for no reason.

  • Anyway, to win I'm going with Boyle.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay - Let's definitely go with:
  • Slumdog
  • Ben Button
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Doubt

  • The fifth spot is between Revolutionary Road, The Reader, and The Dark Knight. I think this will be the place where The Reader sneaks in, but it doesn't really matter, since this category is all about Ben and Slumdog. I'm going to call Ben Button for the win here.

  • Best Original Screenplay - This is a weird, fairly weak category this year, partially because almost all of the major contenders are based on adapted screenplays. The precursors so far have been: National Board of Review (which Gran Torino won), New York Film Critics' Circle (which Rachel Getting Married won), and the Los Angeles Film Critics' Association (which Happy Go Lucky won). More importantly, though, in a weak category, stick with what you know. Let's look at the trends.

  • The Academy has nominated 14 of Woody Allen's other screenplays, including the last time he did anything that seemed important (Match Point). I say Vicky Cristina Barcelona is in.

  • A Pixar film has been nominated for this category 3 of the last 5 years. WALL-E is better than all three of those films, and has generated some (largely hopeful) Best Picture buzz. It won't get nominated for Best Picture, but it will probably get some pity votes for this category. The only strike against it is its sparse dialogue, but certainly a good chunk of the film's beauty comes from what's written on the page, and I think the film is too strong for that quibble to sink it.

  • Also, Milk is in. The Academy usually nominates all of its Best Pictures' screenplays. The exceptions to this rule come when the movies are really all about spectacle. This happened to Ray, Moulin Rouge, Master and Commander, and LOTR: The Two Towers. Milk certainly doesn't belong in that company.

  • I say Gran Torino is out, which leaves the last two spots for Rachel Getting Married and Happy Go Lucky. Synecdoche, New York is a dark horse on the basis of Charlie Kaufman and its sheer ambition, but my guess is it's far too artsy fartsy for the Academy.

  • As for the win, I doubt it'll be Vicky (far from Woody's best) or WALL-E (again, light on dialogue). It seems unlikely that the Academy would give the win to the seemingly slight Happy Go Lucky given that Leigh's more complex, weightier work hasn't won. That leaves Rachel and Milk, and honestly, my money's on Milk.

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That's all for now.

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